Tarot of Prague - Temperance

Bean Feasa

This is an understated depiction of Temperance. At first I wasn't sure I liked it. I thought it a bit milk-and-waterish, a bit pallid. But I have to say that through using the deck it's grown on me. I like its subtlety. That delicate hint of wings suggests to me that the 'angelic' quality of Temperance is not that of some awesome heavenly being but something that could be achieved by any of us. The wings make me think of handmade lace, of something we can craft for ourselves by honing our attitudes and actions.
Something in the woman's tall, slender physique (or maybe it's the fact that her stance is so stylised) makes me think of ancient Egyptians. There's something High Priestessy about her - maybe it's that otherworldly expression on her face. Like she knows stuff but it's for her to know and us to learn. I love the stylised fishes and the decoration at the edges that looks almost like beading (again there's that handcrafted feel) - the suggestion of water without actually showing a pool at her feet. The way I feel about this card is that I haven't quite figured it out yet, something about it keeps me at a remove. I'm intrigued, and feel if I hang around somehow it will yield up its secrets.


She seems to float in the air. Quite amazing because her wings doesn't seems strong enough to support her. There is a sense of balance to the card. Three fishes on each side. And beside the fishes, there seems to be columns with shells. I think it's help us understand the meaning of temperance: to look at both side of matters, see what good about them.

There is a large double circle of shells. Makes me think of an aura that we find around the heads of saints.


Something which comes to mind when I look at this card is the Angel Raphael. Raphael is the angel of healing and this card sometimes carries that meaning with it. The reason I think of Raphael is because of the fish. Raphael travelled with a mortal and taught him how to use each part of the fish to mix different lotions and potions and use them for healing.

Raphael can also help with curing addictions and cravings which again fits nicely with moderation and the correction of imbalances.




Do angels die? Do they sleep? Everything in this card seems suspended in time. This alabaster white figure, with her eyes closed, appears in repose. My sense is that she is set out on a decorated floor, and I am viewing this tableau from above. Do the wings belong to her or is she obscuring a bird in flight drawn on the floor?

In this card, she holds two golden chalices with three connected streams suspended in an arc over her head. Do the three currents represent body, mind, spirit? …Or past, present, future? …Or id, ego, superego? The right and left cups are held at equal height. There is no distinction between receiving and giving, or giving and receiving.

The floor is decorated with metal scrollwork and polished stones. The stones and fish remind me of the ocean. The yellow/gold color represents truth, beauty, and eternity. It appears that her body and the open circle form an ancient symbol.

Her head intrigues me. It looks unnatural. It looks like a perfect sphere with a face in the lower left quadrant. Is she wearing a perfectly smooth helmet? Does anyone have any ideas?

Her name is Temperance. I see careful and deliberate balance in this card. I see balance between the cycles of life, the orders of life, and the relationships within life. There is no waste in this card--no fallen drops. All is contained.

Temperance follows the Death Card. It is a card of equilibrium and surety following a period of change, instability, and uncertainty.

This card asks me to examine the areas of my life where I am out of balance. Am I called to give from an abundant heart? Am I called to receive with humility and grace? If I have suffered a loss, this card reminds me of the perfect balance of the universe. It asks me to look at the big picture. Everything has a place and a reason. Mistakes are valuable lessons. Hurts are opportunities for forgiveness. The universe IS--and that IS just fine. This card offers respite and reflects peace and quiet certainty.


This card is intensely personal to me. I don't want to go into details of why, but it's in fact one image from Prague that stayed with me after I came here in 1991 for just three weeks. It was an odd time in my life, definitely chaotic emotionally, and this image represented some kind of quiet I think - there is a tremendous sense of stillness and control - in a gentle way - about this image. It's one that we changed very little from the original, although it did need work to make it easier to see - and we did quite a bit with the colour, as in the original it's very pale.

I've never been quite sure that it fits with the deck. We had certain stylistic "rules" when we did the cards, just as a way of giving them some cohesion, when we were using such very different media, periods, even sizes of things we photographed. One such "rule" was always to have a distinct foreground and background, and in this card we did not do that. Diane Wilkes (in her review) picked up on this (astutely in some ways) and said that it did not quite "fit". I think that's true, but then again, for me this image is key to a whole aspect of my relationship to this city. So it had to be there to make the deck complete in MY eyes. We planned to change it for the second edition - but in the end I didn't want to.

It is definitely about finding a balance at last - for me.

Oh, and yes, she is wearing a helmet, perfectly white and featureless. Something between a halo and a form of protection I think.


This card has had a visceral effect on me since I opened the box.
It is a gut punch.
What struck me are the ripples or lines down her flesh.
As if water runs down the length of her.
As if some sheer fabric covers her, but is part of her.
The head, oh my goodness.
Strange, yet familiar.
I love her. I mean, you must understand this, that I really love this woman. She is Christ-like. I see her as undergoing some kind of suffering. The wings, well they are the one thing I go back and forth on.
At times I love them, other times, I dislike them.
She hasn't come up in a reading either! I just find myself searching for her in the deck...I'll be doing dishes and I find myself looking for this image, for this card.
I haven't begun to unlock what message she has for me.
so back to the lines on her flesh, and then you follow the lines down, and you see her feet and you see her with something behind her feet and you start thinking, what is she on? Is it part of her, no, but then, what is it that she is on? It seems to become part of her...and around I go....
The green shells, are very interesting. the fish, the swirls and circles and zigzags....they seem to impose an order but what and why?
couldn't she just float on a sea of yellow?
the other thing I love is the arc around her head that her mixing creates.
It is am much energetic as it is fluid. It is more energetic to me.
she is like latent energy to me. she is dangerous, she is meek.
perhaps, she is me.

Queen of Disks

I'm not sure why I like this card. It looks so different then the other cards (and other Temperence cards) that I have seen. It's the way she is modeled, the drapery around her, the color of the background, and the fish and leaves that somehow work and look so different. She looks almost archaic ancient Greek. It's a weird card, but I really like it. The Temperance part is her almost invisible wings contrasted with the solidity of her body-not just the water and the cups.



annik said:
She seems to float in the air. Quite amazing because her wings doesn't seems strong enough to support her.

Like bees! Scientists I think still haven't quite figured out how bumble bees are able to fly, and this adds to the mystery and magic of the card: the pouring of water from one cup to another isn't the only impossible feat.

Temperance is associated with Fire, yet the imagery is watery, a combination which shouldn't work but the angel makes it work!

This was my first ever "Phantom" card, as the ToP was my first ever deck, and Temperance would come up for me in every Reading. I built up a "you again!" relationship with her, which developed into jealousy many times. Why couldn't I get things to mix? Why couldn't my life let me be that serene?

The orderedness reminds me of magnets... How the poles of bar magnets will repel each other (North vs North, South vs South) so that you have to stack them symmetrically to get them to behave. The perfect patterns of magnetic fields that iron filings reveal. All from opposites attracting (North & South) rather than repelling (Water vs Fire).


A dualistic feel to this card for me

The image brings fragments to my mind of the statue-like figures found in the middle ages of knights and royalty that had died, likenesses of them placed upon the coffins. There is a specific name for this depiction and coffin combination, but it escapes me at the moment.

I have hand-carved in wood two figures from the Tarot of Prague, the Queen of Cups and Strength. I had considered Temperance but decided against carving it because of its lack of color and quiet form, plus the strength of its background. As a carving it wouldn't have the visual appeal that I wanted, even though the image is taken from a dimensional figure.

My interest, at the moment, is the background for this figure --- I'd like to know more about it. Dave